Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt has given $29,000 over the past six years to politicians who could be lumped in with the “liars” on climate change that he denounced this week.
Schmidt’s donations to eight Republican legislators since 2008 have become part of Google’s complicated relationship with theAmerican Legislative Exchange Council, the powerful conservative policy organization colloquially known as ALEC.
Earlier this week, Schmidt sent ripples through Silicon Valley when told a syndicated radio show host that Google would end its membership with ALEC, saying it was among groups who were “literally lying” about climate change. Within days, word came that Facebook, Yahoo and Yelp announced that they had either ended or were planning to end their connection to the influential organization, whose 200 member companies have 33 million employees. None of those tech companies would publicly or pointedly attribute to their departures to differences over global warming.
But severing ties with ALEC wasn’t just a moral issue for Google. It was a business decision.
The Internet search giant has become one of America’s biggest funders of large renewable power projects, so far investing more than $1.5 billion in solar and wind projects. And ALEC — which is funded by Exxon, Chevron and the oil-rich Koch brothers — has been trying to roll back renewable power laws in state after state.
ALEC, in contrast, has worked for years to remove or weaken state laws that require the use of renewable power. On energy issues, many clean-power advocates consider the group little more than a front for oil companies. If adopted by state legislators, ALEC’s model legislation would discourage the solar and wind projects that Google funds, critics say…
And despite their commitment to renewable energy, Google employees and the company’s political action committeegave $699,195 since 2008 to members of the “climate denier caucus” in Washington — the name given to politicians who oppose regulations to curb emissions by Forecast the Facts, an environmental activist group which compiled the list…
…ALEC does not deny climate change, said spokesman Bill Meierling. The organization just opposes government mandates that force people to use a particular technology, he said.
"The requirement is the challenge," Meirling said. "We believe that renewable energy should expand according to market demand."
However, environmentalists note ALEC doesn’t demand fossil fuel companies relinquish billions of dollars in federal tax breaks.